Friday, December 25, 2009

Review of The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria

Co-blogger Mike Bird’s review of Carl P. Cosaert, The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria (NTGF 9; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008) is out in Review of Biblical Literature 12/2009.

Bird concludes his balanced review:
Cosaert has produced a significant work in a still largely uncharted area on the text of the New Testament in the church fathers, and there is much potential remaining here for showing the value of patristic authors for establishing the history of the text, scribal habits of the transmitters, and the reception of the New Testament. It is obviously impossible to determine the veracity of his data without the Greek text of Clement in front of you, but overall the impression I get is that his study is accurately detailed and analytically sound. Indeed, Cosaert’s near encyclopedic listing of Clement’s Gospel citations (including that of Clement’s opponents in an appendix) makes this a valuable reference resource that New Testament researchers and patristic scholars will want to avail themselves to.

The only major reservation that I have about this volume is the continued use of the notion of text-types such as “Alexandrian,” “Western,” “Caesarean,” and so forth. The Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), pioneered in Münster, seems to have shown that variants indicative of a particular text-type are dispersed over a wide array of witnesses and that, furthermore, documents can fluctuate in the “type” of text that they exhibit. Application of the CBGM has so far been limited to the Catholic Epistles (where text-types are the least discernible), and one can still recognize the textual affinity of various manuscripts in a common trajectory or textual tradition whereby an identifiable textual group remains evident. Still, whether the historical nomenclature of text-types represents the most fitting way to express the fluidity and accordance of the manuscripts and patristic citations remains an open question. If anything, Cosaert’s study supports this, since he shows the relative fluidity of the textual traditions in Clement and the lack of a single dominant textual form that Clement’s texts of the Gospels corresponds to (with the exception, perhaps, of the Alexandrian quality of John). He is also correct to ask in what meaningful sense the primary influence on Clement’s text of Matthew can be Byzantine when Byzantine readings do not emerge as a unified text-type until the fourth century. I question, therefore, whether it is profitable to even try to place Clement in relation to a particular text-type. The most we can do is identify Clement against a series of analogous readings from other texts that may themselves fluctuate in the character and origin of their witness. That question aside, Cosaert has produced an outstanding volume that contributes significantly to matters of textual criticism in relation to the church fathers.

Earlier J. K. Elliott has reviewed this book in RBL here.

Read also my summary of Cosaert’s presentation at the SBL Annual Meeting in Boston, 2008 here. During the time for questions co-blogger Dirk Jongkind posed a question to Cosaert that is congruent with Mike Bird’s “major reservation” – Cosaert’s appeal to text-types: “What do we mean with a ‘fluid text.’ Does not your conclusion undermine your own analysis (there was no clear text types at this time, they develop later, why include them?).” Unfortunately, I do not know whether Cosaert replied, I did not record an answer in my notes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is This Really a Singular Reading in P64?

Today I have been working on P64. Take a look at the image of one of the fragment (frg. c) of P64.

In C. H. Roberts editio princeps he transcribes the second line (col. 2, verso frg. “c”) ι]β [ο] λεγομ[ενος (Matt 26:14) which is obviously erroneous.

K. S. Min points out, in his study of the Matthean papyri, that there is no space for the omicron and so transcribes ι]β λεγομ[ενος (followed by Comfort and Barrett).

The omission of the article would be a unique reading. However, the rounded bottom of the letter is a bit different from how the scribe wrote the letter beta elsewhere (twice in 𝔓67). Further, the trace of the extant letter before λεγο[μενος could perhaps also be an omicron written in smaller size. The letter is admittedly written somewhat below the line, which speaks in favor of a beta.

On the other hand, there seems to be at least one other example of a smaller omicron in this manuscript, see this image of line 2, col. 1, recto of this fragment:

What is your opinion?

Update: I have uploaded a better image of P64 (col. 2, verso frg. “c”)

Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon

Peter Head is one of the contributors to a very interesting new book but since he hasn't mentioned it yet, humble as he is, here it is:

Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon edited by Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias

A fascinating collection of essays that builds upon the growing interest in manuscripts as artifacts and witnesses to early stages in Jewish and Christian understanding of sacred scripture.

Imprint: T & T Clark International
Series: Library of Second Temple Studies, The
Series Volume: 70
Pub. date: 25 Aug 2009
ISBN: 9780567584854
336 Pages, hardcover
$140 (109.70 on Amazon)

You can look inside here.

Publisher's description
Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon constitutes a collection of studies that reflect and contribute to the growing scholarly interest in manuscripts as artifacts and witnesses to early stages in Jewish and Christian understanding of sacred scripture.

Scholars and textual critics have in recent years rightly recognized the contribution that ancient manuscripts make to our understanding of the development of canon in its broadest and most inclusive sense. The studies included in this volume shed significant light on the most important questions touching the emergence of canon consciousness and written communication in the early centuries of the Christian church. The concern here is not in recovering a theoretical “original text” or early “recognized canon,” but in analysis of and appreciation for texts as they actually circulated and were preserved through time. Some of the essays in this collection explore the interface between canon as theological concept, on the one hand, and canon as reflected in the physical/artifactual evidence, on the other. Other essays explore what the artifacts tell us about life and belief in early communities of faith. Still other studies investigate the visual dimension and artistic expressions of faith, including theology and biblical interpretation communicated through the medium of art and icon in manuscripts. The volume also includes scientific studies concerned with the physical properties of particular manuscripts. These studies will stimulate new discussion in this important area of research and will point students and scholars in new directions for future work.

Table of Contents

Introduction — C. A. Evans and H. D. Zacharias
John P. Flanagan, “Papyrus 967 and the Text of Ezekiel: Parablepsis or an Original Text?”

Gregg Schwendner, “A Fragmentary Psalter from Karanis and its Context”

Thomas Kraus, “‘He that dwelleth in the help of the Highest’: Septuagint Psalm 90 and the Iconographic Program on Byzantine Armbands”

Don Barker, “Another Look at Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1353?”

Scott D. Charlesworth, “Public and Private — Second and Third-Century Gospel Manuscripts”

Pamela Shellberg, “A Johannine Reading of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 840”

Peter Arzt-Grabner, “‘I was intending to visit you, but . . .’: Clauses Explaining Delayed Visits and their Importance in Papyrus Letters and in Paul”

Annette Bourland Huizenga, “Advice to the Bride: Moral Exhortation for Young Wives in Two Ancient Letters”

Marianne Schleicher, “Transitions between Artifactual and Hermeneutical Use of Scripture”

Larry Hurtado, “Early Christian Manuscripts of Biblical Texts as Artifacts”

Stephen Reed, “Physical and Visual Features of Dead Sea Scrolls Scriptural Texts”

Eduard Iricinschi, “‘A thousand books will be saved’: Manichean Manuscripts and Religious Propaganda in the Roman Empire”

Kirsten Nielsen, “The Danish Hymnbook: Artifact and Text”

David Chalcraft, “Some Biblical Artifacts in Search of a Sociological Theory”

Dorina Miller Parmenter, “The Bible as Icon: Myths of the Divine Origin of Scripture”

Peter M. Head, “Letter Carriers in the Ancient Jewish Epistolary Material”

Juan Hernández, “The Apocalypse in Codex Sinaiticus”

Update: As usual, Eisenbrauns (via James Spinti) offers a good bargain (30% off).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Resurrection in Vaticanus vs. Washingtonianus

At an upcoming international conference, "Resurrection of the Dead. Biblical Traditions in Dialogue" to be held at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium April 7-9, 2010, there is one paper is of particular interest:

"Absence and Ascendance: A Narrative Comparison of the Resurrection Scene in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Washingtonianus" by Tom Shepherd, PhD Professor of New Testament Interpretation Andrews University, USA.

Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Washintonianus (W) illustrate extremes in the ending of the Gospel of Mark. Whereas B has the famous abrupt ending at 16:8, W not only has the long ending of Mark, but also the Freer Logion included at 16:14. While relatively little time separates the copying of the manuscripts (B from the fourth century, W from the fourth to fifth), their text types are vastly different.

Recent research in textual criticism has focused attention not only on recovery of the earliest form of the text of the New Testament, but also on the history of the transmission of the text. Because narrative analysis illustrates the underlying emphases of a story, it is well suited to demonstrate how telling the story of the resurrection in different ways highlights distinctive theological themes.

Through a narrative analysis of the ending of Mark in B and W, this paper will elucidate their special theological emphases in connection with the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Whereas the open ending of Mark in B focuses attention on the failure to share the resurrection report and implies the need for the reader to go and tell, the much longer ending in W closes many of the gaps (but not all) and focuses attention on the cosmic role of Christ and the success of his emissaries in sharing the gospel. These directions in the resurrection narrative in the two codices will be tied to other themes in each codex and to trends in church history that they illustrate.

Other main speakers at the conference: Heikki Räisänen, Geert Van Oyen, André Wénin, John J. Collins, José Costa, Adela Yarbro Collins, Daniel Marguerat, Claire Clivaz, Tobias Nicklas, Gerd Lüdemann, and Odette Mainville.

There will also be a number of seminar papers, not yet announced. Read more here.

Review of A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament

New reviews have been added to Review of Biblical Literature, and one of them is:
Zeba Crook's review of Roger L. Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger's Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2006).
Crook seems himself as a translator and as such belongs to the primary target group, i.e., "Bible translators, most of whom... will lack formal training in textual criticism but who will need to grapple with issues pertaining to the reconstruction of the biblical text." It is clear from the review that Crook lacks this knowledge. He finds the often extended discussion of examples very helpful, while the introduction to the field and the theoretical framework does not answer her questions, as reflected in the concluding paragraph:
The practice of textual criticism naturally invites people to wonder about the relationship of the reconstructed text (UBS4) to the original New Testament documents. Does textual criticism re-create the original text? On the one hand, Omanson appears to leave this question unanswered when he says that the current text in UBS4 is as close to the original as our present state of knowledge allows. But later he says rather obliquely, “In the earliest days of the Christian church, after an apostolic letter was sent to a congregation or an individual, or after a gospel was written to meet the needs of a particular reading public, copies would be made.” These, Omanson writes, were “certain to contain differences in wording from the originals,” but he adds that “[m]ost of the differences arose from accidental mistakes, such as mistaking a letter or a word for another that looked like it” (16*). I would have preferred a little more specificity. What period exactly does Omanson have in mind: first century or second–third century? How many variants are not included in the “most” to which Omanson refers? Omanson’s implication appears to be that not much changed in the period between autograph and our earliest full Greek manuscripts (some 250 years). Given the utter paucity of textual evidence from this period (at least in Greek), this seems a groundless claim to make.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

P127 = POxy 4968

The New Manuscript of Acts mentioned previously is published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. 74, pp. 1-45 (edited by David Parker and Stuart Pickering) (What's New in Papyrology has photos of the title page and table of contents). I have now seen this volume (although photos are not yet up on the Oxy website), and can summarise some of the information on this important manuscript (described by the editors as 'the most significant new addition to the Greek evidence since ... 1927' [the date of the publication of P38]).

  • Eight leaves from a papyrus codex beginning with Acts (pagination survives: 112 on fol. 7a), page size 16.5 x 21.5 cm, two columns.
  • Fifth century date
  • Important find re codex construction: at least one full bifolium; binding cord still present; repairs to papyrus, kolleseis, quire make up not clear.
  • Text: portions of Acts 10-12, 15-7 preserved (more precisely: Acts 10.32-35, 40-45; 11.2-5, 30; 12.1-3, 5, 7-9; 15.29-31, 34-36, (37), 38-41; 16.1-4, 13-40; 17.1-10); 'highly distinctive text' - suggests a free text diff from both Vat. and Bez.(which in turn suggests to the editors that 'it is hard to see how the bipolar concept of a two-text form of Acts can continue to be maintained', p. 8); 'an expanding free text that has a strong tendency to omit' (p. 12: contrast with Bez.); attests some readings previously singular to Bez.
  • Transcription (credited to R. Coles)
  • Commentary: on textual and other features.
Up-date (Sept. 2010): photographs are on-line here.

SBL Meetings Call for Papers

Call for papers for the SBL International Meeting in Tartu, 25-29 July, 2010 has been open for a while, but nothing really happens until after the SBL Annual Meeting. Today we had our first submission and I hope we will have plenty more until the call for papers closes 31 January. So here is a reminder:
Papers concentrating on any aspect of textual criticism are welcome, in particular the practical work with manuscripts. Examples of topics: papyrological insights, scribal habits, preservation techniques, technical developments, computer assisted tools, producing critical editions, evaluating the evidence of fathers or versions, discussion of particular passages, social historical studies, new projects, systematic-theological problems, teaching text-criticism in an academic setting, etc.

Go to the SBL site, log in, and make your submission! Then relax and enjoy Christmas.

By the way, I am delighted that Jan Krans is my new co-chair in this unit, successing David Trobisch.

Today the call for papers for the SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta 2010 opens:
The New Testament Textual Criticism Section invites proposals for two sessions: 1) The first session will be devoted to the history of the textual transmission of the New Testament, especially the social-history of early Christian textual transmission and the history and practice of textual criticism. 2) The second session is an open session for which proposals are welcome on any aspect of New Testament textual criticism. Papers should be submitted via the online system. For questions, please contact AnneMarie Luijendijk at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Angels and Shepherds

Luke 2:15

Καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἀπῆλθον ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἱ ἄγγελοι, καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ποιμένες ἐλάλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους• διέλθωμεν κτλ.

Though the text as printed above (καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ποιμένες ἐλάλουν) receives a D rating in the first edition of Metzger's Commentary, and though I can see how καί makes sense in Luke's way of handling these sentences, I keep on struggling with the double nouns. The 'shepherd-people' is an awkward construction as it stands, and I still need to be convinced that it fits Luke. Metzger's explanation of how the words 'καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι' got left out, is, well, unfortunate (I would have gone for something like smoothing out the syntax rather than homoioteleuton). But then, weirder things happen without a viable explanation and I would not place too much worth on the need for a proper reason to explain why the text stands as it does. Still, on the other hand, there are a zillion possible explanations that could explain its insertion.
This would be a case where the discovery of an early manuscript with the reading καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι but without οἱ ποιμένες would solve all my problems. Sometimes evidence just gets in the way, doesn't it? Nothing left, then, to settle for simply 'οἱ ποιμένες'.

Monday, December 14, 2009

ETC Annual Achievement Awards 2009: Nominations

As the end of the year approaches we invite our readers to engage in a bout of critical reflection on the major text critical achievements of 2009. We invite nominations for awards in the following categories:

1. Best contribution to biblical textual criticism.

2. Best discussion of an individual manuscript.

3. Worst treatment of textual criticism in a biblical commentary.

4. Best evangelical contribution to biblical textual criticism.

5. Most arcane detail published in any text critical discussion.

6. Funniest item connected to textual criticism of the Bible.

7. Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame / Life-time achievement Award.

Nominations can be submitted (over the next 16 days) as comments or by email.

4G Is Here

Today Swedish Telia, as the first operator in the world, launches a 4g-network. American Verizon and Docomo in Japan will follow later. The 4g-net is only available in the central parts of Stockholm and Oslo at this point. Theoretically the so-called LTE-technique opens for a maximum speed 100 Mbit/second. Ericsson and Huwaei are the companies that developed the technique, which will allow for new services, like streaming HD-TV. The price for this kind of connection will be around 600SEK ($85)/month, Telia says, but the introductory price, valid until summer, is symbolic 4SEK (ca 50 cents [sic!]) - I assume this means one will have to sign up for a long term subscription.

Personally, I will probably not get 4G for a long time. I just cancelled my Telia 3G broadband a week ago, since I can now connect the computer to the internet with my mobile phone like any 3G modem.

Update: Wikipedia article about 4G

Friday, December 11, 2009

SBL New Orleans: Summaries from SBL Sessions on Textual Criticism

Brief summaries from some SBL session on New Testament textual criticism and papyrology by Rex Howe of Dallas Theological Seminary have been published on the Friends of CSNTM website here. It should be noted that these cover only a part of the many papers that were presented in NT textual criticism (the last session is not covered, and neither the IGNTP session, nor the joint NTTC/LXX session). Moreover the summaries should be read with caution, because some are misleading.

For example, the summary of Matteo Grosso's paper, "'Where There Is No Male and Female': The D-Text of Colossians and Women" says:
The textual insertion (ἄρσεν και θῆλυ) suggested by some D-type witnesses in Colossians 3:11 has often thought to have been influenced by the inclusion of the phrase in Galatians 3:28. Grosso challenged such an explanation and posits another: those behind the D-type tradition were influenced by an anti-female bias.

In fact, I understood Grosso's argument for the reading as the opposite. From the viewpoint of internal evidence, the Western reading here is actually pro-female, and therefore goes against its own anti-female tendency (if there is one), whereas the omission in other MSS may be due to an anti-female tendency. Therefore Grosso suggested that the reading is to be regarded as all the more reliable. Grosso presented an earlier version of this paper at the SBL in Rome and in light of the response there he now presented a more nuanced and cautious argument.

Another paper that Rex found to be the most exciting was Geoffrey Smith's on a "New Oxyrhyncus Papyrus of Mark 1:1–2." According to the programme, Smith was actually supposed to talk about the Bodmer Misc. Codex (in which P72 is found). When I told Peter Head that he had changed topic and was going to present on Mark 1:1, he thought I was joking (how could he think that?). Peter has written an article on Mark 1:1, in which he prefers the shorter reading, excluding the words "Son of God." This new papyrus fragment attests to the shorter reading (you should have seen Peter's happy smile). However, Smith proposed that it is an amulet and I agree with that judgment for several reasons. I will come back to that in my own summary of the paper. In any case, Rex points out that not everyone in the audience were not convinced that this is an amulet (perhaps you can guess who).

Rex has also posted summaries of various ETC papers here including: Daniel B. Wallace, "The Text of the Gospels in the Papyri"; William F. Warren, "The Text of the Gospels in the Apostolic Fathers"; Stanley E. Porter, "The Text of the Gospels in Apocryphal Greek Gospel Papyri"

Bible and Church Conference DVD

The DVD from the Bible and Church Conference in Westminster Chapel, London, sponsored by Tyndale House, earlier this year is now out. The three speakers are all ETC bloggers:

Peter Williams, "Have we got the history right?"

Dirk Jongkind, "Have we got the text right?"

Simon Gathercole, "Have we got Jesus right?"

Read our earlier announcement which includes a film clip featuring Peter Williams here.

Obtain the DVD here.

New Manuscripts up at CSNTM

Jeff Hargis, field director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, announces on the TC discussion list that images of several manuscripts have been uploaded at the website here. These are from the University of Glasgow:
These manuscripts include P22, a third century fragment of John's gospel. Others include GA 560, GA 561, GA 562, GA lect 162, GA lect 239, GA lect 240, and GA lect 241. The manuscripts are posted on the "Manuscripts" section of the website. CSNTM is grateful to the University of Glasgow for permission to post these images.

One MS in the Glasgow collection that the team examined is MS Gen 229. It contains lectionary information and κεφάλαια for Matthew, a short hypothesis and indication of στίχοι in Matthew. However, it turned out that there is no actual NT text. Read Dan Wallace's story here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

PhD Scholarship in OT Textual Criticism

Jim Davila announces an impressive raft of PhD scholarships at St Andrew's, including The Emanuel Tov Scholarship: for a student interested in Old Testament / Hebrew Bible Textual Criticism.
Congratulations to St Andrew's on these six scholarships to celebrate 600 years of Divinity (Cambridge is celebrating 800 years, but not in such an impressively student-centred manner).

Searching for Nomina Sacra with Accordance

Over at the Accordance Blog, Rick Bennett has posted on "The Search for ‘Sacred Names’." In this post Rick summarizes the paper he presented at the SBL in Rome (which I blogged about here).

In his excellent SBL paper, Rick demonstrated how Accordance with the GNT-Pap module - a digitized version of Comfort and Barrett, now extended with some new papyri, 𝔓118-121, and 𝔓123, can be used to search for and analyze the distribution and form of nomina sacra.

I have just been using this module myself when I searched for some nomina sacra, although I used the first version which has been updated since then. Of course I compared the results with the printed edition (and images and other sources). I did spot some errors and limitations along the way, that I have reported to Accordance.

Errors is to be understood here as deviances from the printed version of Comfort and Barrett (2d edition), not as de facto errors (which unfortunately occur too). I found three errors relating to P45: Luke 11:11 (wrong brackets); Acts 11:8 (wrong brackets); Acts 16:18, Comfort and Barrett abbreviates IH XP in the printed version, but the digital version has IH XY. I think these errors occur both in GNTPAP-C and -M. I suspect that the wrong bracket formatting, [ ... [ or ] ... ], occur at several places in the module, not just in the transcription of P45, and I assume that these could be searched for rather easily by folks like Rick Bennett who knows practically everything there is to know about search strings (needless to say that he has helped me a lot with those).

One limitation that still remains in the latest version is the possibility to exclude hits that occur within conjectural text set in square brackets. Rick tells me that the developers will do something about that in a future version. For now one has to sort that out manually. Some other limitations that were included in an earlier version of this post have now been dealt with in the current version of the module (which I don't have for the moment).

In sum, the software is very useful for this kind of research. The fact that one gets hits in the reconstructed passages is a limitation, but in the end, the most important thing is that all the factual hits are there, and it is clearly better to get more hits and exclude irrelevant ones, than to miss some cases.

Update: the above post has been edited since some of the limitations that I brought up are not relevant for the latest version of the module. Thanks to Rick Bennett for updating me :-)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Seminar Curriculum Question

I am dithering about which manuscripts to study next term in an MPhil seminar I run. So I thought I would ask for some help here. Basically we have already done the papyri so I need eight or nine manuscripts to study covering the full range of material on parchment.

Here are my preliminary thoughts:

Week 1: fragmentary uncials (a la Parker in Status Quaestiones or 0311-0315)
Week 2: Vaticanus (no not focusing on the dots)
Week 3: Sinaiticus
Week 4: Alexandrinus (or not?)
Week 5: Bezae
Week 6: not sure
Week 7: 1739
Week 8: A.n. other minuscule (prob. not one by the same scribe as 1739 [just saying this before Amy chips in])
Week 9: An interesting lectionary manuscript.

Criteria: helpful to have some secondary literature; photos available (published facsimile or on-line); interesting or important text or features or particular readings; connects with or raises some general issue in NT TC; like to have a spread of NT material (not all gospels etc.).

So any ideas?

Cursed Manuscripts

The Egyptologist and Classicist Hugh Evelyn-White was involved in archaeological exploration in the Nitrian region of northern Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. His labors brought him into contact with a number of monasteries in the region, and, as a result, he brought back a considerable number of manuscripts to Britain. White attracted the attention of a young lady whose love drove her mad and resulted in her suicide. Grief overtook White, who supposedly had conducted himself in a respectable fashion, and he killed himself with a firearm. In the time leading up to his own death, White wrote:

Things are no better, rather worse and likely to be worse. I shall never again laugh at the threats written in those MSS.: they have got me all right, and it seems likely they have not done with me yet. I had leave from the Abbot to carry those MS. leaves to Cairo, remember that, but the other monks told me it would be on my head, and so it has proved (Add. MS. 45690, fol. 63).

Gerald Bonner, 'The Crum Papers' The British Museum Quarterly 29 no. 3 (1964): 59–67 (63).

Carlson on the CBGM and Jude 5

At the SBL when I bumped into Stephen Carlson I was delighted to hear that he has chosen as topic for his dissertation to investigate stemmatic methods in NT textual criticism, specifically the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. A few days ago Stephen posted an article review about the CBGM on his blog Hypotyposeis.

Carlson refers to Klaus Wachtel's example in Jude 5 (see Carlson's bibliography) where the ECM adopts Ιησους. Since I have dealt a lot with Jude over the years I am of course very interested in this crux. First, it is important to note that the evidence is not clear cut in this passage even with the CBGM (as far as I know), although the coherence might be better for Ιησους than κυριος. Therefore, in the installment κυριος was printed with bold dot below the main line reading.

Further, I note that a minuscule witness like 1501 which is basically a Byzantine witness yet attests to Ιησους, and none of its 10 closest potential ancestors have this reading, which is also an indication that this reading could also emerge independently, i.e., the adopted reading in the ECM does not have perfect coherence, so I suppose that this particular criterion is not entirely decisive. (Minuscule 93 is another witness which four closest potential ancestors have κυριος.) The program "Genealogical queries" on the website of the INTF can generate a textual flow diagram for Jude 5/20 involving the subject of the verb which looks like this. Just click on the image to get a larger version in your browser. One can note the line up to 1501 from 424 attesting to reading n (with κυριος). Unfortunately, I am not sure which all of the readings are in this stemma (although it can be inferred from the attesting witnesses), because the variation unit (Jude 5/20) does not correspond with the ECM apparatus that gives the larger stretch of text Jude 5/12-20, involving several distinct textual problems.

In any case, Carlson concludes in regard to the CBGM in general:
To its credit, the CGBM appears to be more rigorous and precise about evaluating external evidence than the heuristic rules of thumb currently employed in reasoned eclecticism. Its main drawback is that this promised precision may be more apparent than real. The theoretical basis for the CGBM is the work of one man, and the technique has been applied only to the Catholic Epistles. It has not been tested for other texts and its operation is still poorly understood outside of Muenster. Indeed, it has not borrowed its concepts from classical stemmatics or even from phylogenetics in biology, which have been tested and found to be robust over many different applications. It is still very much an unproven method; time will have to tell as more people gain experience with it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sustainable Living and the UK National Health Service

If you are following the news about Copenhagen and are interested in what the NHS is doing about sustainability in the UK (where the NHS is Britain's largest employer and one of the largest contributors to the UK carbon footprint), the BMJ has commissioned a video about the impact of climate change on babies born today, and how the NHS can reduce its carbon footprint.

The video is here: Maisie & George and the future of their planet

How is this connected with textual criticism? It is a quiz. Answers in the comments please!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Archaic Mark Epilogue

The University of Chicago published the following news in an article "Scholarly sleuthing, exhaustive examination uncover a forgery in Library":

The Divinity School’s Margaret M. Mitchell, together with experts in micro-chemical analysis and medieval bookmaking, has concluded that one of the University Library’s most enigmatic possessions is a forgery.

Mitchell said experts from multiple disciplines made the findings possible. “Our collective efforts have achieved what no single scholar could do ― give a comprehensive analysis of the composite artifact that is an illustrated codex. The data collected in this research process has given us an even deeper understanding of the exact process used by the forger,” said Mitchell. “It will, we hope, assist ongoing scholarly investigation into and detection of manuscripts forged in the modern period."

Mitchell completed the analysis with a study of the textual edition the forger had used. She confirmed and refined Stephen C. Carlson’s proposal that the modern edition from which the forger copied the text was the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann.

Congratulations to Stephen Carlson, he was right all the time!

Read the whole story here.

Read the whole (almost) story of the forgery here.

Thanks to "Jorwed" who sent me the link.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wachtel on the Byzantine Text of the Gospels

The very last paper In the last NT textual criticism session a few days ago at the SBL in New Orleans was presented by Klaus Wachtel, INTF, Münster:

"The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?"

Codex Alexandrinus (A 02) and the Purple Codices (N 022, O 023, S 042, F 043) are often classified as early witnesses of the Byzantine text and thought to support the theory that it was the result of a recension made early in the 4th century. Full collations of 38 synoptic pericopes in 156 manuscripts brought together in a research project at the Münster Institute for New Testament Textual Research can now be used for a fresh look at the question of how the Byzantine text of the Gospels arose. In fact, the evidence points to a development rather than to a recension, although it becomes clear that a large part of this development had already taken place by the 5th century. This paper will describe the phases of that development represented by Codex Alexandrinus and the Purple Codices.

Since Wachtel perceived that people in the audience were a bit tired in this late afternoon (especially the Europeans with the huge time difference), he decided not to read his whole paper, but instead summarized it, showed the slides, and went straight to the conclusions.

However, the whole paper including tables is now available for download on the INTF website here.

Kephalaia in Alexandrinus

There is a new article out: Greg Goswell, ‘Early Readers of the Gospels: The KEPHALAIA and TITLOI of Codex AlexandrinusJGRChJ 6 (2009), 134-74 (on-line). Not only is the author based in Melbourne (always a good sign), but he includes complete lists (with ET) of all the kephalaia in Alexandrinus with some reflections on the hermeneutical significance of the divisions. (HT: D. Stark) Here is the closing paragraph:

Textual divisions are an element of the paratext of Scripture. They act as a commentary on the text that can at times be an insightful guide. I have sought to demonstrate that there are four main possible effects of a textual break, namely to separate or join material, and to highlight or downplay features of the text, and I have provided multiple examples of each effect (function) using the kephalaia. The function of a textual break in separating or joining material has at times provided the reader with exegetical insights. One clear trend within all four Gospels is the highlighting of the element of the miraculous in the ministry of Jesus and (the reverse side of this) the downplaying of his teaching. The headings usually focus on the fact of controversy between Jesus and the religious leaders rather than what issues were controverted. The lack of attention given to dominical passion predictions and the paucity of divisions within the passion narrative itself suggest that there is little focus upon the suffering and atoning death of Jesus. Instead the divisions in the passion narratives reflect a homiletical tradition (or liturgical usage) in which there is a moralistic focus on positive and negative ethical examples. This study of the Gospels in Codex Alex-andrinus has demonstrated that delimitation criticism has the potential of generating new exegetical insights (or recovering old ones long for-gotten) and of helping us to scrutinize and re-evaluate contemporary exegetical traditions and commonplaces.

Biblioblog Top 50 update

Earlier this week I mentioned the monthly Biblioblog Top 50. Apparently, however, it will only be updated twice a year from now on. A new top 50 list was just published based on visits from June-November. Now this blog is ranked #18.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

World News in Ancient Greek

Not quite on topic, but I thought that a number of readers of this blog might be interested in World News in Ancient Greek [thanks to Myrto Theocharous for pointing this out.]

Congratulations to Amy Donaldson

Congratulations to Amy Donaldson, who today (Dec. 3) successfully defended her dissertation on “Explicit References to New Testament Variant Readings Among Greek and Latin Church Fathers,” in partial fulfillment of requirements for the Ph.D. degree at the University of Notre Dame (her dissertation committee included Brian Daley (chair), Robin Darling Young, David Aune, and Michael Holmes). In addition to a discussion of many individual passages and variant readings that are mentioned by one or more of the Greek and Latin fathers, the dissertation includes a very comprehensive catalog of explicit references by fathers up through the time of Augustine in the early fifth century (although later works are sometimes included when they contribute significantly to the discussion). In short, the desideratum wished for by Nestle and Metzger has now been accomplished. It is to be hoped that the dissertation (the catalog, in particular) will be published sooner than later (though university requirements and other circumstances may delay matters somewhat).

Hearty congrats and best wishes to Amy for this accomplishment.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

P127: New manuscript of Acts

The ITSEE News reports as follows:
Volume 74 of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, recently published, contains David Parker's edition of P127, a fifth-century papyrus containing parts of Acts 10-12 and 15-17.
According to the introduction it is "the most significant new addition to the Greek evidence since ... 1927... It offers a new free version of Acts. Although it differs greatly from Codex Vaticanus, it also presents a strikingly different version from that found in Codex Bezae".
There is nothing yet on the Oxy web-site and I haven't seen vol. 74 as yet.

In the Biblioblogosphere

It is a new month and that means two things in the biblioblogosphere:

1. The Biblical Studies Carnival (xlviii) is published, this time by Doug Chaplin aka Clayboy. This carnival notes several of our posts in November (on Archaic Mark, and the first SBL reports highlighting Peter Head's paper on distigmai here and here and two other reports here and here).

For general information about the Biblical Studies Carnival see the carnival homepage maintained by Tyler Williams, who incidentally is hosting the next carnival in January 2010 on the same website. It is possible to nominate posts by sending suggestions to biblical_studies_carnival AT

2. The Biblioblog Top 50 for November is out, and this blog is ranked no. 36, which is very good - we have readers! Our best ranking since this list started was #9, February-March 2009. Below I have listed our rankings:

October 2008 #22
November 2008 #26
December 2008 #36
January 2009 #17
February 2009 #9
March 2009 #9
April 2009 #13
May 2009 #20
June 2009 #25
July 2009 #28
August 2009 #28
September 2009 #54
October 2009 #35
November 2009 #36

One may get the impression that we lost a lot of readers since March, but that is not the case. Instead many new blogs, more or less related to biblical studies, are being added successively to the "Complete List of Biblioblogs" which means that the competition gets tougher and tougher. In fact, just looking at our own statistics for this year, the summer month July has unexpectedly been the best month so far, mabye because of long reports from conferences in Rome (SBL), London (Codex Sinaiticus) and Birmingham (VMR launch/Mingana collection).

These two monthly events, Biblical Studies Carnival and Biblioblog top 50 could be interpreted merely as narcissistic manifestations. On the other hand, they can be viewed positively as tools that draw reader's attention to: (1) good posts on good blogs and (2) good blogs with good posts.